The Courage to Become | Dala Thomas McDevitt
“If you can’t tolerate critics, don’t do anything new or interesting” –Jeff Bezos.
I had done everything I was supposed to. Graduated high school with honors and got into the University of Texas at Austin. Responsibly worked throughout college and maintained a 3.8 GPA. Graduated in 4 years and got a job as a Labor & Delivery Nurse. Took out a lease on a Honda Civic, and began paying off the impressive student loan debt I had accrued in my pursuit of happiness. I hated Mondays and drank on Fridays, just like everyone else.
My life was cookie-cutter perfect on the outside, but inside there was an ever-present emotion of discontent and disconnect with “who” I was. Recently out of a bad relationship and living alone for the first time in my life, there was never a better time for a fresh start. With little idea about what was going to make me happier, I decided to eat healthier and workout, as these were seemingly the societal go-to’s to “feel better”. It’s always the small things that end up being the bravest and biggest steps to self-discovery.
When I cut out the crap food, I wasn’t so tired all the time. When I cut out the alcohol, I wasn’t so hungover each morning. When I started working out, it sparked a relationship with my body that wasn’t rooted in shame and self-consciousness. As my body healed, my mind was revitalized and suddenly filled with curiosity and creativity. Now willingly rising with the sun each morning, I increased my productive time by 30% and had to seek out new hobbies. Because health had been the catalyst to this awakening, I dove deeper into the subject.
Knowledge became my mentor, my body my subject, experimentation my best friend, and, interestingly, Instagram my medium of expression. I voraciously explored audiobooks, documentaries, articles, blogs, YouTube videos, anything that helped me learn more about the mind-body connection and how to enhance it. I shared my experiences through Instagram, becoming increasingly open and public about my journey, my trails, and my errors.
My acquisition of knowledge slowly engulfed previously unreachable beliefs of self-worth, self-love, mindfulness, meditation, revolutionary ideas of sexuality, and the overwhelming realization that love is most powerful of all.
I was happier, healthier, more confident, and more positive than I had ever been in my life, so you can imagine my surprise when I began receiving more negativity from others than ever before.
I was told that my new comfortability with my body was slutty, that my fervor for health was an eating disorder, that my positive rhetoric was a guised cry for help, that my aversion to alcohol and junk food was seeded in obsessive vanity, that my new lotus tattoo was impulsive and self-destructive, and my new hair cut my Britney Spears meltdown moment. It was remarkable to see how many were threatened by my campaign to like myself.
How am I supposed to keep doing what is making me happy if my loved ones are telling me I’m in desperate need of help? Don’t they know me better than anyone? Shouldn’t I listen to them? Aren’t they just trying to help me?? The alienation I felt was profound.
As I submitted to the dark loneliness I perceived to be inevitable, I was shocked to find the loneliness was more of welcoming adventure. I was content to be alone because I, for the first time, enjoyed the company. I was okay exploring my next steps without the consultations and opinions of others because I didn’t feel I needed their approval anymore.
What a revelation! My name is Dala Thomas: I like myself, I trust myself, and I have within me the courage to become the very best and most loving woman I can be.
I used social media and devoted myself to disseminating ideas of positive body image and self-love, to the creation of meal plans and workout programs to guide others in improving health, and to online coaching so that perhaps I could help other alienated women feel safe and supported.
I began to live differently, to dress differently, to carry myself differently and to speak of myself differently as the joy I felt impregnated all facets of my life. I was bursting with affection and inspiration, and knew that I was never hurting anyone else despite what problems some took up with my new lifestyle.
I had finally learned how to share my light with the world, and it was this light that found Sean and brought him to me.
Strangers on social media became my closest allies. They did not ever know the “before” Dala, only the one they saw in front of them and therefore had no inherent aversion to my transformation. The only difference between these humans and the ones originally in my life was that they did not have to endure or understand change.
As a year came and went, I saw friends and family re-enter my life when the danger they purported disintegrated to a faint illusion. I thought accepting them again after so long would be difficult, but there was now so much peace in my life that forgiveness was second nature.
The most challenging part of my journey was finding the courage to become something other than what my closest friends and family already knew me as. People will warn you not to embark on a new journey, but only because they cannot yet see your destination, and fear is the most powerful motivator of all. Your path may go against the grain of your peers, but that not does mean it is wrong. The road to self-discovery may at times be lonely, but it is better to know yourself than to know a hundred others. Act in love, and you will never be lost.
This self-realized, joyful, life-giving women is what I had to find the courage to become. The “what” is not important here; we all can and should become thousands of different things. Courage itself is the vital ingredient, giving life to your dreams and a blind eye to doubt. Muster the courage to get to know yourself, and you will find your “what”. Then share it with the world and realize the true potential of how beautiful you can be.
Dala is partnering with Kendra Scott on September 6th. Kendra Scott is giving back %20 of proceeds to Hospitals! I will be there, Dala will be there and so will other amazing women. We'd love to see you there!
Kendra Scott - September 6th - 6-8pm - South Congress Location - Austin, Texas
I'm Catia, a woman, wife, mama, sister, sister friend, you know -- I wear a million hats just like you.
One of my biggest whys is that I want people to feel good about ALL of who they are. Including you.
If I could choose ten words that best describe me I would say: honest, welcoming, giving, curious, loving, earnest, empathetic, spiritual, playful, and sassy. Let's add: adventurous. That's 11.
Nice to meet you!